Pseudonyms, Male Analysis

At Issue

(Critical Guide to Censorship and Literature)

Until the late nineteenth century, many Western societies considered it scandalous for women to write for publication. This attitude was more widespread in England and Europe than in America, but it prevailed almost everywhere. Three obstacles confronted women writers: getting their work published, having their published work taken seriously, and suffering reproach from family or society for being writers. For these reasons many women have published anonymously or under pen names. While some women have used female pseudonyms, or such anonymous sobriquets as “A Lady,” those who have gone beyond personal narratives or domestic dramas to write about social and political issues have typically assumed male pseudonyms.

Among the best known of such writers is Mary Anne Evans, an English editor and novelist. Writing as “George Eliot,” she produced several notable works of fiction, including Adam Bede (1859), Silas Marner (1861), and Middlemarch (1871-1872). Eliot also served as the actual, though not official, editor of the Westminster Review for three years, and she published numerous essays. In France, Amandine-Aurore-Lucile Dudevant wrote as “George Sand” during the same era; she created more than a hundred works, including highly regarded novels, plays, and collections of graceful essays and letters. A somewhat later example is the South African writer Olive Schreiner. Using the pseudonym “Ralph Iron,” she...

(The entire section is 471 words.)